The health officer suggests fourth doses of vaccine for the younger population should be closer to the next wave

Public health in the York area is preparing for the next wave of COVID-19 in the autumn and younger residents may have to wait until then for their next booster dose.

The health officer Dr. Barry Pakes told the regional council on May 26 that signs of COVID-19 are currently promising, with a more pronounced drop in wastewater indicators. But he said forecasts point to another wave to come after the summer, perhaps later in the fall.

Pakes said regional public health is preparing for that possibility.

“We will see a significant COVID spike or potential future surge in the fall,” he said. “We’re planning for the fall, whether it’s COVID or any other viral disease. We hope to keep most of this on the back burner for most York area residents. But certainly we will deal with it very actively in acute care and in public health.”

According to Pakes, the regional wastewater signal is about a third of what it was at the peak of the Omicron wave, but that still means it’s well above previous waves of the pandemic due to Omicron’s transmissibility. He added that the region was still seeing about one death a day and hospitals were still weighed down by cases, with 56 as of May 24.

But Pakes said vaccinations and a significant portion of the population going through COVID-19 have prevented many from getting severe consequences.

“Deaths were fewer than previous waves thanks to excellent vaccination coverage,” Pakes said.

Although many week-long community clinics have been closed, Pakes said the plan remains in place to continue temporary booster dose clinics into the summer. Fourth doses are currently available for those aged 60 and over and some immunocompromised, although there is no indication yet when they might be available for the younger population.

Pakes said that for others who aren’t currently at high risk, it may be best if the next booster dose comes later.

“There are people in the community who are under the age of 60 who would very much like another refresher,” Pakes said. “It’s very important that the booster they get when they need it is closer to a future wave.”

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti asked about the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive. Pakes said while it’s not technically required, self-isolation is something public health is asking residents to do – and most are.

“People care about others,” he said. “People are and should continue to abide by it.”

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